Gods of Times Square @ Kingston
January 23 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm$5.00
Not exactly on the familiar beaten track of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, but maybe coming soon. Rumor has it that the WVRT will veer northward along Greenkill Avenue and this place will soon be on the route on the Governor’s own Empire State Trail.
Richard Sandler’s The Gods of Times Square (1999) will be screened at Green Kill, a new film and art venue. This new venue is just up the street the infamous “5 Ways to Die” intersection where one-way Fair and Wall Streets converge in a bizarre reverse order.
The documentary, The Gods of Times Square, is an appropriate slice of nostalgia for the old Times Square, the buzzing Deuce with street preachers, pimps, drug addicts, transvestite prostitutes and wayward sailors. The film is the work of Richard Sandler, also a street photographer, who found a home of sorts among the pool halls, porno theaters, arcades and slideshows and rundown theaters.
The work was shot over a six year period that witnessed a radical transformation of Times Square. Disney’s renovation of the New Amsterdam Theater started a development roll that ended with a totally corporatized landscape.
Gone now are the Mom and Pop stores, squeezed out by a real estate gold rush. Gone too are the free spirits who made Times Square a “speaker’s corner”.
The former versions of Times Square offered it’s congregants a place to air their thoughts and blow off a little steam, now the choices are fewer, the prices are higher, and the “sin” is gone.
The Gods of Times Square thus records a time in New York City history when the place most identified with free speech and the soul of New York, changed from a democratic, interracial, common ground, to a corporate controlled soul-less theme park. The fabled “white way” now plays host to the newest of Gods: Mickey, Minnie and Goofy on one corner, Bugs, Daffy and Porky on the other…. God help Times Square!
About Richard Sandler
Richard Sandler is a street photographer and documentary video and filmmaker. He has directed and shot eight non-fiction films, including The Gods of Times Square,(1999), Brave New York (2004), SWAY, (2006) and Radioactive City, (2011). Sandler’s still photographs are in the permanent collections of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Historical Society, the Houston Museum of Fine Art and the Museum of the City of New York. Sandler’s first monograph, The Eyes of the City,(2016) was published by powerHouse books, and a sequel is in the works.
Sandler was awarded two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships for photography, (1992, 1998), a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for Filmmaking,(2006), and a New York State Council on the Arts fellowship for Filmmaking (2009). Currently Sandler’s documentary film, AKA Martha’s Vineyard is in post production; it recounts the lovely island’s history, told from only Wampanoag tribal perspectives.
You can get there on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, but it’s best to wait for warmer weather. The arrival of the Empire State Trail will allegedly make Route 32 passably passable as the State Bike Route it’s reputed to be.